Ladies and gentlemen: I present to you... the last page of my novel.
Some part of me thought I'd never see it again. I can tell that part of me to shove it, because I've finished my second draft.
Now comes the hard stuff. All those little yellow post-its? Those are things I need to address in the next edit.
All these pages and pages of notes?
According to my editing instructions for this book, the next edit will be one of the most difficult: correcting all of the major faults. I addressed some of them in the most recent edit (such as changing my main character's age), but I've discovered many more problems.
Maybe I should have done the really hard stuff on my first edit, but I'm glad I didn't. One of the huge problems I unveiled was a certain character who could have solved two hundred pages of problems thirty years ago - now, I need a reason that he didn't. I also added important elements to the world I created - things that may result in an entirely different ending.
Did I mention this story doesn't have an ending yet? That's okay too, though, because what I have so far may be a stand-alone book. But at this point, I have to know the end in order to work on the beginning.
One thing I do know: never again will I write a book entirely based on a one-word idea (zombies). Never again will I write a whole book without plotting any of it. And never again will I restrain myself to only 30 days (or in this case, 27) in which to write it. All of that just leaves a lot of mess to be cleaned up.
This is not to say that I won't do National Novel Writing Month again. I love NaNoWriMo to death. It gave me faith in myself, and it got this idea out of my brain - an idea I never knew I had. I'm thrilled that I went through with it, and it's a great starting point. But to have a more... approachable first draft, I need have a plan, at least.
I had no idea where I was going when I started this book, but now I can see the path through the trees. I think it's a manageable hike.